CHUB CLUB COACH
That's the proud title worn by Judy Molnar, who works with the thousands (more than 300,000 at last count) of overweight women who make up the membership of Rosie O'Donnell's TV club. And with a title and platform like that, a book was obviously inevitable -- and Mollie Doyle at Villard has it, having won a brief but sharp best-bid contest to get it from agent Scott Waxman, paying a mid six figures for the privilege. Molnar, a large but extremely fit woman who takes part in triathlons, described in her proposal how several years ago she found out her doctor had described her as "morbidly obese," and decided to turn her overfed life around. Her book is called Move More, Eat Less: How to Live a Healthier, Happier Life, and it will be written with fitness magazine editor Bob Babbitt. Her message, exemplified in her life, is that for women with a tendency to obesity, health comes first and vanity should not be an issue. Doyle hopes to have it out very early next year-in time for New Year's resolutions, perhaps?
BOOK BLOWIN' IN WIND
It seems extraordinary that there has not been a major biography of American troubadour Bob Dylan, but the lack is to be filled by a deal just signed by Grove/Atlantic's Morgan Entrekin -- and with a Brit, no less. The author in question is London journalist Howard Sounes, whose recent bio of another American icon, p t Charles Bukowski, bought inexpensively by Grove, won fine reviews and is already, said Entrekin, heading into a third printing. His experience with Sounes was therefore rewarding enough to make him anxious to exercise his second-book option when Sounes's agent, Rusell Galen of Scovil Chichak Galen, brought him a "really amazing" proposal for the Dylan bio. The author had worked on it for a year, and it was so impressively detailed that Entrekin offered a mid-six-figure advance to prevent the book from going to auction. "Anyone would have bought it, it was that good," he said. He plans to publish in 2001, to coincide with (can it be?) Dylan's 60th birthday.
ALL THE WAY HOME
What d s a writer do who follows his editor from a house, only to find the editor moving on yet again? If the writer is Tim O'Brien, he decides you can go home again -- in this case to Houghton Mifflin, from which he had ankled, with editor John Sterling, after In the Lake of the Woods. He arranged his own return -- most unusually, these days, without benefit of agent -- with Houghton executive v-p Wendy Strothman, who expressed herself "absolutely thrilled" to have him back. Houghton has world rights (except for the U.K.) on two new O'Brien works: Houghton editorial director Janet Silver, who will be his editor, describes them as a novel set in 1969, and a book of interrelated stories ("not unlike The Things They Carried") that will combine elements of fiction and nonfiction. No titles or delivery dates yet, but O'Brien, who will be teaching in Texas this year, expects, said Silver, to get in plenty of work on both.
THE LAST MOMENTS
Exactly what is it like for the passengers in an airliner that is about to crash? And how do survivors cope after such a traumatic event? Those are questions that will be answered dramatically in 9 Minutes 20 Seconds: An Affirmation of the Human Spirit, a detailed look at a 1995 plane crash in Georgia that killed 10 of the 29 people aboard. Author Gary Pomerantz is an Atlanta Constitution reporter who, oddly, had not covered the crash of Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 529 traveling from Atlanta to Gulfport, Miss., that fateful day, but later become obsessed with the stories the 19 survivors had to tell. According to his agent, David Black, he wove those stories into a 125-page proposal that was "so powerful that even editors who felt it might be too depressing a subject could not help but read it." An auction Black conducted for North American rights went four or five rounds over two days before Crown's editorial director, Steve Ross, clinched it -- on condition, said Black, that he edit the book himself. Pomerantz, who previously wrote a book about early Atlanta, is due to turn in a manuscript late next year.
SAY IT AIN'T SO, BEN!
Was that business about Benjamin Franklin, the kite and the bolt of lightning simply something got up by our Founding Father for the press? That's the startling conclusion author Tom Tucker has arrived at in his Bolt of Fate: Benjamin Franklin and His Electric Kite Experiment, which agent Caron K has just sold to editor Geoff Shandler at PublicAffairs. Tucker, a science writer for NASA, was researching the international race to develop a science of electricity 200 years ago when he began to look more carefully into the celebrated Franklin tale and concluded that it was a hoax not altogether atypical of the great Philadelphian. Another PublicAffairs project is a particularly bold venture, since legend has it that books by literary agents have little sales heft. But with veteran Sterling Lord as the subject of his own title, Agents' Fees: My Fifty Years in the Literary Trade, perhaps that trend can be reversed. Lord, who was appropriately represented by another veteran, Peter Matson at Sterling Lord Literistic, will tell, according to PublicAffairs publisher Peter Osnos, many tales of his dealings with many notable clients, from Washington and Hollywood as well as the literary world. Kate Darnton will edit the book, which is planned for spring 2001.